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Rev. date: 8/1/2017

Refund Information

Tax Topic 152
Refund Timing
The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in the normal time frame: less than 21 days. However, incomplete or inaccurate tax returns may require further review and could take longer than the normal processing time.
IRS representatives can research the status of your return only if:
Processing times may take longer under the following circumstances:
You can also refer to Tax Topic 303 for a checklist of common errors made when preparing your tax return and for additional items that may delay the processing of your return.

Refund Type

Join the eight in 10 taxpayers who get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. You have several options for receiving your federal individual income tax refund:

Splitting Your Refund

If you choose to receive your refund by direct deposit, you can split your refund into as many as three separate accounts. For example, you can request that we directly deposit into a checking, a savings, and a retirement account by completing Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases) and attaching it to your income tax return. You can also use Form 8888 to buy up to $5000 in paper or electronic series I savings bonds. You can't have your refund deposited into more than one account or buy paper series I savings bonds if you file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation. As a reminder, your refund should only be directly deposited into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse's name, or both if it's a joint account. Please note, to receive your refund by direct deposit (whether into one account or more), the total refund amount must be $1.00 or more.

Direct Deposit Limits

In an effort to combat fraud and identity theft, the IRS limits the number of direct deposits into a single financial account or prepaid debit card to three refunds per year. Taxpayers who exceed this limit will receive a notice and a refund check instead, but may take up to 10 weeks.

Online or Mobile Device

Where's My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund. Use it to get your personalized refund status. The tool is updated once a day so you don't need to check more often. You can also download our free mobile app, IRS2Go, from an iPhone or Android device. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Telephone Access

If you don't have Internet access, you may call the refund hotline at 800-829-1954.

Checking Your Refund Status

You can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we've received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you've mailed a paper return. Have your 2016 tax return handy so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund shown on your return.

General Information

Where's My Refund? shows information for the most recent tax year filed in the current year.
For U.S. individual income tax returns filed on or after July 1:
Refund information will remain available throughout the following year until you file a tax return for a more current tax year.
The Where's My Refund? tool includes a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved, and (3) Refund Sent. Where's My Refund? provides an actual personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. It doesn't show information about amended returns. To check the status of an amended return, use Where's My Amended Return?
Where's My Refund? has the most accurate and complete information available. IRS representatives don't have information beyond what's shown on Where's My Refund? so you don't need to call the IRS unless the tool tells you to call. Updates to refund status are made no more than once a day - usually at night.

Not Entitled to Refund Received

If you receive a refund to which you're not entitled, or for an amount that's more than you expected, don't cash the check until you receive a notice that explains the difference; then follow the instructions on the notice. For information about returning an erroneous refund, see Tax Topic 161.

Refund Less than Expected

If you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check. If it's determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. You'll also get a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.

Missing Refund Check

In the event that your refund check is lost, stolen or destroyed, the IRS will help you obtain a replacement check. See I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?

Additional Information

For more information about refunds, see Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions.